Western liberal democratic civilization is under assault by the forces of shariah Islam. The so-called “Arab Spring” that swept across the Middle East in 2011, while encompassing the hopes and dreams of millions who seek freedom from tyranny, unfortunately has been commandeered for the violent phase of the Islamic Awakening that began in the 20th century. The jihadist drivers of that Islamic movement seek the re-establishment of the caliphate and global imposition of Islamic law. They are determined and sophisticated, deftly deploying information warfare to co-opt and neutralize what little remains of Western defenses.
There will be no democratic transformation of the Arab Middle East until and unless the United States and all who treasure the principles of equality, individual liberty, pluralism, and tolerance as understood through exercise of human reason begin to champion those ideals and confront those who are willing to fight and kill and die for Islam not just on the kinetic battlefield but in the far more important War of Ideas. The war we fight is far along at this point: shariah is advancing not only across North Africa and the Middle East, but throughout the Western world as well.
Jihadi terror and violence on the physical battlefields of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and the streets of Jerusalem, London, and New York are important to the enemy but secondary to the ideological confrontation taking place inside Europe and the U.S. While jihadis with IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) and Kalashnikovs sap our will to fight by draining us of blood and treasure, front groups posing as the “moderate” alternative and led by the Muslim Brotherhood, boast openly that they are working at “eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house by their [our] hands and thehands of the believers so that Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.” Both the terrorists who grab so much of the public attention and the stealth warriors of groups like the Brotherhood seek the same two objectives: shariah and the caliphate. Shariah is Islamic law derived from the Qur’an and hadiths; it’s the basis for constitutions in Muslim countries around the world and is utterly antithetical to Western law and the U.S. Constitution in myriad respects. The caliphate is an Islamic empire. It is obligatory for all Muslims everywhere for all time to engage in warfare (jihad) to spread Islam as a “complete way of life” and to subjugate the entire world to its dictates.
Our failure to understand these fundamental realities cripples our ability to mount an effective strategy to defeat this enemy. Distracted, as intended, by the bombings, kidnappings, and killings of the kinetic wars, and unwilling to acknowledge and name the enemy even as he describes himself, we are gradually succumbing to that subversion from within. In the end, the battlefield that matters, the one where we will lose our civilization if we don’t wake up is the Information Battle Space.
In Europe, where shariah has made extensive gains in recent decades, dozens of Islamic Courts disenfranchise Muslim immigrants and citizens alike from the local legal system. So-called “No Go Zones,” micro-states governed by Islamic law, are proliferating across Europe. Muslim residents of these enclaves demand recognition of their shariah infrastructure and violently prevent local police from enforcing local laws. In hundreds of municipalities, the authorities simply give in, or worse yet, willingly collaborate to permit these parallel Islamic societies effectively to secede from secular national control. Mega-mosques, many built with Saudi money, are transforming the landscape while cathedrals and churches become tourist attractions (or rental space for Muslim prayer services).
Most troubling of all, though, is the proliferation of so-called “hate speech” laws. Unbeknownst by many, enforcement of such laws (intended primarily to criminalize criticism of Islam) is a top agenda item for the global Muslim head of state Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Shutting down free speech is the necessary prelude to attacking other human rights with impunity. The laws of slander under shariah are broad and subjective: slander is anything deemed offensive by a Muslim—and may be punishable by death.
European elites, who have lost their appreciation of the Enlightenment that gave Westerners the highest standards of living in the world based on the freedom to speak without fear and challenge authority and established doctrine, are now enforcing shariah language codes even as unassimilated European Muslims increasingly take shariah law enforcement into their own hands.
The Dutch filmmaker, Theo Van Gogh, was murdered by a Muslim who took offense at his views; the fearless Dutch parliamentary leader, Geert Wilders, was hauled into court to defend his right to speak freely about shariah’s encroachment in the Netherlands. In Austria, Elizabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff must defend herself against charges of offending Islam, Scandinavian champions of free speech like Lars Hedegaard and Kurt Westergaard battle courts and axe-wielding assassins, while Ayan Hirsi Ali had to flee the Continent altogether.
Islamic law obviously is about much more than amputations, floggings, stoning and execution of adulterers, apostates, and homosexuals. Its fundamental ideas about how society should be governed clearly are radically different than our Western ones. This is why the Information Battle Space is so crucial and education about shariah so critical to the defense of liberal democratic society. The more we know and understand about Islamic law, and how it differs from Western-style law, the better prepared we will be to defend the system that undergirds our way of life.
Clare M. Lopez, a senior fellow at the Clarion Fund, is a strategic policy and intelligence expert with a focus on Middle East, national defense, and counterterrorism issues.